The Essential Jonathan Edwards : A Review

The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney

In 2010 the five-volume Essential Edwards was published by the authors of this volume. The authors have compiled much of that work into this present volume, making it much easier to access their previous work. If you’re just discovering Jonathan Edwards this book would be a great starting point to understand his life and his work as one of if not the greatest theologian America has ever produced.

This volume is divided into five sections following the same structure as the five-volume series published eight years ago. The first section provides a biographical overview of his life. The second explores the theme of beauty which was a common theme in his written works and sermons. The third section traces Edwards understanding of the good life. The fourth section addresses the nature of true Christianity as opposed to nominalism. The final section traces Edwards’s understanding of heaven and hell and how that understanding shaped his life and ministry.

This year will mark the 260th anniversary of Edwards’s passing and after all those years his works are still in print and still relevant today. Edwards served his day as a model pastor-theologian a dying breed in our day. His love of God and his commitment to sound doctrine and true godliness are evidenced not just in his writings but in his life work. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards you won’t go wrong with reading this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards: A Review

A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards
Nathan A. FinnJeremy M. Kimble

Jonathan Edwards is considered the greatest theologian and philosopher America has produced, his writings have been in print since his life time, yet many can be daunted in where to start reading Edwards and how to read Edwards. This book helps to address both challenges.

This book draws on a wide range of church historians in addressing the major works of Edwards.  Each contributor helps the reader understand the background behind the writings of Edwards which is important for understanding Edwards’s thought. The contributions range from a general overview of how read Edwards by Dane Ortland to more specific overviews such as Nathan Finn’s chapter on Edwards autobiographical spiritual writings, Jeremy Kimble’s chapter on the revival writings, Michael McClenahan on justification, Gerald McDermott on Religious Affections, Rhys Bezzant on the Life of David Brainerd, Joe Rigney on Freedom of the Will, Robert Caldwell of Original Sin, History of the Works of Redemption by Sean Michael Lucas, Edwards’s Affectional Ethics by Paul Helm, and an appendix by a man who has does much to popular the work of Edwards today John Piper. Each of these provides valuable insight on the work of Edwards.

Personally I enjoyed most the chapter on the revival writings of Edwards as it provides great background information in regards to Edwards work as an apologist for the Great Awakening. I also enjoyed the chapter on The Life of David Brainerd a work that has had a profound impact on the history of Christian missions. If you’re looking at reading Edwards I would commend this book, if you’re wondering where you can find his works they are available in many print editions as well as here http://edwards.yale.edu/ .

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Puritans and Pastoring Episode 3: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

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In the latest episode of Puritans and Pastoring I look at A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine a work exemplary of Puritan evangelism. Alleine like many of the luminaries of the Christian church passed away at an extremely early age dying at the age of 34, though dead his work still speaks today.

 

Puritans and Pastoring: Who were they and why study them?

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I have recorded the first episode of my new podcast Puritans and Pastoring. This first episode provides a brief look at who they were and why we should study them. Listen and let me know what topics you would like to hear about in future episodes.

Bearded Gospel Men: A Review

Bearded Gospel Men by Jared Brock and Aaron Alford

Beards have recently become popular, but as authors Jared Brock and Aaron Alford demonstrate in this book there is a long line of long bearded gospel men who can be looked to as examples of faithfulness.

The authors in this book 31 miniature biographies of bearded followers of Christ from a range of Christian traditions throughout the history of Christianity. Each chapter comes with reflection questions to help the reader better appreciate the legacy of the individuals addressed in the book. Each entry is well written and engaging and provides an introduction to historical figures that often go unnoticed in church history. Some might object to the wide range of traditions represented in this book from Catholic to Anabaptist and all points in between but that only helps to ensure that the book will have a wide range of readership.

What pleases me most about this book is that it packages church history in an accessible and interesting format that the average guy would be interested in reading. Young men living in a culture likes ours with so few heroes would do well to read this book and reflect on the legacy of the bearded gospel men who have helped shape the history of Christianity. I would commend this book to any man in my church, even the ones without beards.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) -A Review

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Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

The best test of whether a children’s book is any good is whether children actually like it, this book has been tested and it has passed the test. I have spent the past week reading this book to my two boys (ages 4 and 5) at bed time reading a chapter a day.

Simonetta Carr does a good job of describing the historical context in which Irenaeus ministered and the challenges he faced. Given the current course of our society it is a good time to introduce young readers to courageous Christian leaders who faithfully ministered and contended for the truth during times of persecution. An added bonus is the extra facts given at the end of the book which helps give a better understanding for the Roman world.

I would encourage parents to get this book and read it along with their kids. While we might be tempted to shelter from the harsh realities of persecution that Christians have experienced in the past and do experience throughout the world we should teach them about examples of faithfulness which this book does.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of Reformation Women

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Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard makes accessible many biographical sketches of Reformation women who have not received a great deal of attention in Reformation studies.

This book provides insight into the life and impact of twelve women who greatly shaped the progress of the Protestant Reformation. The women come from a wide range of backgrounds but have one thing in common their commitment to seeing God glorified in their lives. One of the most remarkable women encountered in this work is Katharina Schutz whose involvement and interaction with the leading Protestant Reformers of her day is truly amazing.

While there are many books being published on the Protestant Reformation this one stands out in bringing to attention women whose accomplishments and service though great are largely forgotten in church history. If you’re looking to get a better understanding of the contribution women made to the Protestant Reformation this should be one of the first books you pick up.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of the Dawn of Christianity

Author Robert Hutchinson most recent title  The Dawn of Christianity provides a narrative account of the origin of Christianity beginning with the start of Jesus’s ministry and concluding with the Jerusalem Counsel which is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. In this work Hutchinson draws heavily on the Scriptures and uses some secondary material to to shed light on the historical background of Jesus and the early church.

One of the greatest faults in this work in is Hutchinson’s willingness to discount the clear testimony of the gospel writers as occurs in the third chapter in which he casts some doubt as to whether those Jesus brought back to life were actually dead as is recorded in the gospel accounts. There isn’t much you’ll learn from this that couldn’t be learned through studying Luke and Acts, and in fact Luke in his accounts in Acts narrates more of the early church’s history concluding with Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. While well written there isn’t much to commend this book as ground breaking.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of Martin Luther and the Enduring Word of God

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Noted Luther scholar Robert Kolb in this work helps remind readers that the Reformation sparked by Luther was itself a rediscovery of the Word. Kolb in this book traces that rediscovery and how it brought about the Scripture-centered church that rose out of the Reformation.

Kolb begins by addressing the place of Scripture in Luther’s childhood and youth highlighting that though the people were largely separated from the Scriptures there were aspects such as the reading of Gospel lessons which prevented the gospel from completely withering away under the papacy. Kolb proceeds to address Luther’s discovery of the Bible in the university as well as his overall understanding and interpretive framework. Kolb addresses the role the Scriptures placed in Luther’s work as professor, preacher, and translator. Kolb proceeds to address Luther’s shaping of his fellow colleagues.

One is reminded in this work the enduring power of God’s word. The Reformation and Luther’s life and legacy bear witness to the power of a church that finds its rhythm in the Biblical realities of repentance and forgiveness of sin, and that power holds promise for today as well.

Disclosure: I received an advanced review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.